Vuyo Mere, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Friday, made his top-flight debut in August 2001.
There are nine players that have featured in the league this season that were born after this date. The Swallows FC captain has been in action for 20 consecutive seasons, since making his debut against Black Leopards in 2001.
The TTM coach until last month, Joel Masutha was the goalkeeper in his debut game. TTM was probably not even an idea at that time. As a club, their starting point is recent (2015) while their starting point as a top-fight club is even more recent (2020).
Swallows FC’s loss to TS Galaxy in the last week was their first league defeat of the season and their first defeat in a league game (including GladAfrica Championship) since 8 March 2020. They were just one week shy of reaching a year undefeated.
1 – Vuyo Mere did not play Swallows FC’s last match against TS Galaxy, the first league game he has missed all season.
Could it be coincidence that they lost?
Recent results point to problems beyond Mere’s absence, however. Swallows have not won any of their last four matches in all competitions (Drew 3 Lost 1), their longest run without a win in two seasons, since they went on an 8-match winless run in the second half of the 2018/19 season.
Two clean sheets in the last 10 league games may be a reason for concern, but they are still the second best defence if judged by goals conceded. Only Sundowns (7) have conceded less than Swallows FC (12). The bigger worry could be the lack of goals going forward.
Swallows have not scored more than once in a league since the opening game of 2021, with the eight subsequent games yielding 1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1 goals. Binary.
The question has always been whether Swallows FC are dependent on Ruzaigh Gamildien’s goals. After all, 50% of their goals have come from his boot, the highest proportion of a player for his team in the league. The other question has been: Are they dependent on penalties?
5 – Swallows FC have been awarded (5) and have scored (5) more penalties than any other side this season.
That said, Swallows can rest in the knowledge that they are probably safe from relegation, having reached the magical 30-point mark considered the safety zone. No team has been relegated from a 16-game season having won 30 points, with just one ending up in 15th.
2015 – The last team to be relegated having won 30+ points in a season were the old Moroka Swallows who finished 15th in 2015, before losing in the playoffs.
Their opponents are well in the relegation battle, though. TTM, have won half as many points as Swallows (15). That said, their confidence will be sky high after knocking out the same Swallows FC in the Nedbank Cup on the weekend.
4 – TTM are on a run of four games unbeaten (all competitions), their best run of form in a while. The last time they went on a longer unbeaten run was at the end of the 2018/19 season.
Black Leopards v Golden Arrows
Bottom club Leopards host Golden Arrows on Sunday, two weeks after beating them in their own backyard.
Victory for Leopards would also represent just the second time Leopards have completed successive league doubles over an opponent in their PSL history (also last season). The only other occasion was when they completed doubles in 2001/02 and 2002/03 over Ajax.
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By Opta Jabu